Critical care physician Dr. Jamil M. Madi is doing everything he can to inform the public on just how serious and deadly the delta variant of COVID-19 has been in the Rio Grande Valley.
He uses his social media accounts to get the word out. He’s spoken to the media on several occasions. He can’t comprehend why some in the general public aren’t taking this latest surge of the coronavirus seriously.
From Aug. 1 until Sept. 9, there have been 72 COVID-19 related deaths at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, and about 97 to 98% of the 72 deaths were unvaccinated patients, Madi said, who works at the hospital.
“The vast majority of those who have died we are talking about 98% or so are unvaccinated,” he said.
“In one hospital we have 35 COVID patients and 35 out of 35 patients are intubated. That’s how serious this is and people just don’t understand how sick patients are,” Madi said with frustration in his voice.
“I am talking in this tone because I am sick of it,” he said. The numbers reflected in the hospital are similar to the numbers being reported in hospitals around the nation.
According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Foundation poll published on April 22, some 3 in 10 health care professionals said they considered leaving the profession because of the ongoing pandemic. They cited burnout and stress. Some said the hardest part of working in a pandemic is the fear that they too will become infected, the poll states.
“We are not talking about 80%, we are not talking about 70%, we are not talking about 85%, we are talking about over 90 and 95%. Anything in the history of medicine that is above 90 to 95% changes the outcome of the disease and treatment, and yet here we are talking about 97, 98 and 99 percentage of certain treatments against others and yet people are still hesitant about the vaccination,” Madi said.
They say “no we are lying, no these are forged numbers, these are fabricated, you are being paid by pharmaceutical companies, hospitals are being paid to put patients there…it’s just unbelievable,” Madi said.
The critical care physician said he doesn’t understand why hospitals don’t make the numbers available to the public to show them just how serious the variant is. Instead of getting information from the medical field, “people are looking at what they see on social media or they are searching on Google and different sites. People are getting the wrong information,” Madi said, adding that even Fox news is reporting that the majority of patients being admitted to the hospitals are unvaccinated.
In Texas, there have been 3,156,901 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 57,932 fatalities. There have been 51,904 cases involving students in schools and 13,026 involving staff members.
According to Texas Health and Human Services, 58.42% of individuals 12 and older have been fully vaccinated. That percentage increases to 77.63 % of individuals 65 years and older.
In Cameron County, 75.99% of individuals 12 and older have been fully vaccinated while 84.23% of individuals 65 and older have been fully vaccinated. In Hidalgo County, 74.49% of individuals 12 and older have been fully vaccinated while 85.17% of individuals 65 years and older have been full vaccinated. In Starr County, 83.18% of individuals 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated while 96.54% of individuals 65 years and older have been fully vaccinated. In Willacy County, 61.66 of individuals 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated while 78.74% of individuals 65 years of age and older have been fully vaccinated.
With the delta variant spreading quickly not only across the Valley but across the nation, Madi believes it’s important for the unvaccinated public to hear and learn the facts about COVID-19. He would even like to show them if he could.
“What is happening is the generation of patients coming to the hospital this time around are much younger than the ones from last year. There’s around a 20 to 30 year difference,” he said.
Madi has been posting medical information on his social media account for the past two months trying to get the information out there on how serious the delta variant is.
On a recent Facebook post, Madi writes, “If every person who is hesitant about vaccination could walk through our hospital units and watch from end to end, they would change their mind between the first foot in and the first foot out. It’s that powerful.”
Last week, Cameron County surpassed reaching 50,000 coronavirus cases and the numbers continue to rise. In neighboring Hidalgo County there have been 110,200 cases.
Last Thursday, President Joe Biden outlined his administration’s vaccine requirement that mandates businesses with 100 plus employees to require them to be vaccinated or tested for the virus on a weekly basis.
“We are tired, we are all tired in the hospital because we get the same thing every time and then patients come in and they say ‘we need to get vaccinated.’ I say well you know it’s too late. You can’t get vaccinated right now. Right now we need to ride it and see what we can do to help save your lives,” he said.
Madi has asked some of the patients why they did not get vaccinated and they would say they didn’t have time, they were about to get the vaccine, they had an appointment but didn’t follow through.
Because the vaccine is readily available at any drug store, pharmacy and grocery stories, Madi just doesn’t understand why the public won’t get vaccinated. “It’s free for everyone. I don’t know what else to do.”
If hospital physicians have to put a patient on a ventilator it’s more than likely that patient will not come out alive.
“It’s not a flip of the coin. The odds are definitely against you. No matter what your age is,” Madi said.
“Right now you are talking about a 90 to 95% preventable death…we are actually committing suicide by not doing what we are supposed to be doing. It’s mass suicide due to misinformation, ignorance and established beliefs and self righteousness and it has to stop,” Madi said.
According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, there have been 40,696,606 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States with 655,875 coronavirus related deaths. The U.S. in most recent days is averaging 1,000 COVID-19 deaths per day along with 136,000 new cases.
“People are still dying, lots of people are dying. What is saddening is that this last surge could have been preventable after the vaccine. If everyone did what they were supposed to do where everyone got vaccinated, we wouldn’t be where we are right now and thousands and thousands of lives could have been saved.”
Physicians around the country have constantly stated it’s the younger unvaccinated individuals that the delta variant is attacking with many ending up in the hospital and with some dying.
In recent data reported by the Cameron County Public Health Department there were 10 COVID-19 related deaths in the county with six of the deaths involving people in their 30s, 40s and 50s. None of those who died had been vaccinated.
“I am in the job and in the business of saving lives and I will do whatever it takes to save lives. If I can save one life or two or even more, by talking to the media to help persuade the public to get vaccinated then by all means let me do what I need to do. I will juggle with work in the hospital and making the public aware of what is going on,” Madi said.